God has a plan to bring beauty from your pain

No one really embraces heartbreak or suffering.  We usually do everything we can to avoid it, and we often complain to God when He doesn’t put an end to it at our first request.  But maybe he is allowing the suffering for a really good reason.  Maybe He has purpose even when he allows us to experience disappointment or even heartbreak.

I think of several stories from the Bible.  Joseph’s story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, is a prime example.  Even though Joseph endured great suffering for many years as he wrongly spent time in prison, God had a masterful plan he was executing behind the scenes….a plan that would involve Joseph rising to great power in Egypt and helping his family gain food during a famine in Israel.  I also think of the great apostles Peter and Paul.  They were beaten and thrown into prison, but God later miraculously freed them from prison and their story inspired many to follow Christ.

The Bible reveals that there is purpose in suffering and heartbreak.  Romans 5:3-5 says “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”   So, perhaps instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling anger toward God, maybe you and I should choose to trust God even in the midst of heartbreak.  Maybe we should ask God to use our suffering to build our character.  God won’t waste your heartbreak.  He will use it to do something beautiful.

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE

These things constitute emotional abuse

Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage.  Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and emotional abuse.  Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind.  Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.

After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal or emotional abuse:  Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm,  verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors.

Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse.  You are a valuable woman.  You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight.  Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled.  You will slowly be destroyed.  That is NOT God’s plan for you.  In fact, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“.  If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor.  Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart.  By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.

These things are considered physical abuse

I was talking with a wife the other day who has endured physical abuse from her husband for years.  It began so slowly that it she didn’t realize she was the victim of domestic violence until her injuries had become pretty serious.  I was reminded that wives, especially Christian wives, need to be alerted to what actually constitutes physical abuse.

I believe the following constitutes physical abuse:  Punching, slapping, shoving aggressively, kicking, trapping physically (as against a wall), twisting arm painfully, throwing objects at you aggressively, biting, pulling your hair painfully, a pattern of refusing to allow you to sleep, regularly requiring you to work until exhaustion or while sick, tying you up against your will, forcing you to perform sex acts against your will, forcing himself on you sexually against your will, forcing you to use alcohol or drugs, denying you medical care.

If your husband or boyfriend is currently doing any of those above things, call 911 and seek immediate protection at your local domestic violence shelter.  If these behaviors are not currently occurring but have occurred fairly recently, you still need help.  I strongly urge you to call your local, confidential domestic violence hotline.  It’s time for Christian wives to stand up against abuse!  The Bible makes it clear that husbands are to treat their wives kindly.  1 Peter 3:7 instructs husbands to be considerate of their wives and to treat them with honor as the weaker vessel.  Furthermore, Ephesians 5:11 says “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”.  So, don’t cover up your husband’s or boyfriend’s abuse.  He is not your enemy, but he needs to be stopped, both for his own good and for your welfare.

What you need to know about talking about your husband!

It’s actually a really awesome thing when you talk about your husband in public!  Well, it’s really awesome if what you’re sharing is complimentary!  In fact, it’s one of the kindest things you can do for your husband.  Men are wired to crave respect and affirmation.  That’s why God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 to respect their husbands.  I have seen my husband begin glowing (in a masculine sort of way!) when I affirm him in front of his friends or our family members.

However, there is a flip side to this business of speaking publicly about your man.  My husband tells me one of the very worst things a wife can do is to disclose some of her husband’s failures, character deficiencies or mistakes in front of other people.  He says when a wife shares her husband’s personal failings, he is absolutely devastated and emasculated.  Don’t emasculate your man! Don’t cross that boundary when speaking about him in front of others! If he begins feeling emasculated, he will likely subconsciously gravitate toward another woman who will build him up instead of tearing him down.

Is your heart turning cold toward your husband?

I know what it’s like for a wife’s heart to grow hard and cold toward her husband.  I let that happen in my first marriage of 18 years…a marriage that ended in divorce.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for!

In my experience, the reason a wife’s heart grows cold usually comes down to two things.  She has not established firm, clear boundaries on disrespectful or destructive behavior…or she has expected her husband to make her happy and blames him for failing to do so.  Could one of these reasons apply to you?

Boundaries:  It is Biblical to lovingly confront someone who is sinning against you and establish boundaries in that relationship…with the goal being that the person will repent and be welcomed back into full relationship.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 to learn what Jesus has to say about this.  Also keep in mind Galatians 6:1, which says. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

Expectations:  If you expect your husband to make you happy, realize you have an unrealistic expectation!  The only one who you can trust 100% to bring you fulfillment, joy, and perfect love is….the Lord!  Make the relationship with Him your top priority, and once you feel secure in that relationship, your heart will likely become softer and more compassionate toward your husband.

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

Are you too hard on yourself?

There have been so many times that I have lost my cool over a trivial mistake I’ve made!  I beat myself up and feel disgusted with myself. Perhaps you’ve done the same thing a time or two.  What makes the situation even worse is then I become a grump around my husband and children. Because I have worked myself into a foul mood, it infects them as well. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we need to be able to laugh at some of our mistakes.

Sometimes, we take ourselves too seriously!! Often, we feel we have to be “right” all the time.  Many times in the past, my pride has kept me from being able to laugh at myself when I made an error.  How about you?  Are you too serious?  Are you a perfectionist?

These days, I’m trying to let go of my pride and admit I’m a human being who isn’t perfect 100% of the time!  You know what I’ve found?  Everyone, including my husband, seems to like me better.   Humility is such an attractive quality.  Psalm 18:27 says “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.”  Let’s work on being humble this week.  When we mess up, and we will, let’s LOL.  For you who still don’t know how to text, that stands for “laugh out loud”.  *Hope you’re laughing at yourself right now 🙂  Get it?

Wrestling with God’s major instruction to wives

Here’s something to ponder.  The Bible instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 to respect their husbands.  But what does that really mean?  Well, when I looked up the original Greek word for respect, it means “to be in awe of” or “to revere”.  Oh my!  I love my husband, but I confess I don’t usually treat him as if I “revere” him!

I wonder how my marriage would be impacted if I really sought to revere my husband?  Hmmm.  Well, first we need to better understand the word “revere”.  Webster’s dictionary says revere means to treat with deferential honor or regard as worthy of great honor.  Ok, I’m starting to get the picture.

Here’s how I’m going to try to press into this Bible instruction this week.  I am going to strive to treat my husband as if everything he says is really worth my complete attention.  Yes, I’m going to actually pay attention when he speaks and treat his thoughts, feelings and ideas as very important.  That’s how a person should respond if they think someone is worthy of great honor.   Are you doing this with your husband?

I wonder how your marriage and my marriage would be impacted if we started showing respect to our husbands (whether we FEEL like it or not)?  I have a sneaking suspicion that our men would stand a little taller, feel more confident, enjoy emotional intimacy with us much more, and maybe even be more courageous in seeking to honor God!